unLTD takes a closer look at how Highlander’s company culture has led them through nearly 30 years of business success in a rapidly changing industry.

Established in 1995 as a retail shop on Glossop Road, Highlander began to forge its path in IT by selling PCs to students and businesses at a time when pen and paper was still the norm. They moved into business-to-business sales as the digital age began to take hold, and gradually those customers asked for Highlander’s support to help their new systems run smoothly.

Around 2010, Highlander started to grow its small team with the addition of talented salespeople, which led to the development of its national hardware selling business alongside the existing local IT support. Today, they are also picking up support contracts with multi-national companies who like their friendly, helpful approach to IT: Highlander is now working across the UK and into Europe too.


The key to the company’s success is twofold: great systems and great people. “We’ve always been a people-first company,” says Highlander’s managing director Steve Brown. “Most managed service providers (MSPs) will provide the same essentials as us, but what makes a massive difference at Highlander is that you’ve got staff who have been here a long time, are skilled, care about what we do, and will stay on the phone or onsite to go that extra mile until the problems are fixed.”

This commitment from not just management but every member of staff has been built by a family feel, underpinned by systems that work for everyone. “From day one, you get all your training and full inductions, from IT systems to security and a proper ‘meet the team’, so straight away you know what you’re doing and feel part of the business,” explains Steve. “We know when to have fun and we know how to treat each other – we certainly aren’t a ‘Wolf of Wall Street’ firm – and everything we do is about quality, care, and achieving the highest standards. We’re in it together, and we’re in it for the long term!”

Highlander has excellent staff retention rates; people come for the ‘feel’ of the business and stay for everything else the company offers too. 39% have stayed for over 10 years, and 23% for over 15, with eight members of staff clocking in at over 20 years. When they moved into the current premises at Shepcote Office Village, an Office Team was created to help put rules and expectations in place from the ground up, so good practices are largely self-managed. There is now a Health & Wellbeing Team made up of recruits from each department who manage many initiatives, from the weekly running club which encourages staff to look after their health on company time, to persuading the directors that a state-of-the-art arcade machine is required for “team morale”!


Chairman Richard Field – OBE and former Master Cutler – is the inspiration behind Highlander’s five core values: care, dedication, professionalism, respect, and trust. Steve Brown credits working with Richard for being able to instill these values right through the team: “He’ll always ask what’s in it for our staff and how we can improve things for them, whether that’s leadership opportunities, development, or wellbeing; it’s not just about the salaries but what you do for people. Basically, we try to run the business in the way we’d want to be treated ourselves.”

The only way to translate these values to the customer is by employing good people on the front line, Steve notes, something Highlander have become experts at. Consistently achieving top net promoter scores, their customer feedback consistently describes staff as “friendly, knowledgeable, reassuring, efficient and talented.” The Helpdesk Team are equipped with up-to-date training that covers technical know-how and positive commercial attitudes, enabling them to resolve around 93% of incoming issues at ‘first line level’. Encouraging figures like these are shared in Highlander’s Friday morning CommCell: a weekly round-up of good news, thanks, and PCRLs alongside spotlighting a team member to help the 70+ members of staff get to know each other better.

From achieving the highest ISO standards to finishing the week on a high, Highlander’s dual focus on secure systems and looking after staff have seen them conquer the challenges of keeping up with a dynamic and ever-evolving IT sector over the past two decades. By staying true to their South Yorkshire roots and family values, they are here to stay throughout the digital age and beyond.